Killer or Filler?
Will punk ever die? Not as long as bands like Perdition keep cranking out hooky records. The Fort Worth quartet’s debut full-length –– the 10-track Hispaniola (Dang!Records) –– carries the pop-punk torch to a glorious finish. With efforts like this, we can be sure the spirit of ’77 will keep its middle fingers in the air for years to come.
For one thing, Hispaniola is as catchy as the flu and way more enjoyable. Frontman Andrew Goon’s voice falls in between the Swingin’ Utter’s Johnny Peebucks and Less Than Jake’s Chris Demakes, a raspy, melodic yell belting out anthems and odes to a life of scraping by — you can practically see a crowd singing along (which is pretty much what happens live) with their fists in the air. There’s not a lot of hope in this record. Despite cheeky song titles (“I Don’t Get Drunk, I Get Awesome,” “Bitch, I Hold Babies All the Time”), the lyrics have a realistic cynicism. In “Why Buy the Cow When You Can Have the Sex for Free,” Goon’s plaintive melody carries the truth of every male twentysomething dealing with the shitty prospects of living in 2012. In the chorus, he sings, “We self-medicate / To suffocate / That voice that keeps inside / This is not what you had worked for / This is not a better life” — the last line ringing over a single overdriven guitar, the sentiment as clear and heavy as an empty checking account.
And while the record follows the familiar skatepunk formula created by RKL and perfected by NOFX, the arrangements and guitarwork are tricky enough to remind you that those four chords still have plenty of life in them; even if life is full of disappointments, Perdition takes that sentiment all the way to the piggybank. — Steve Steward
My Wooden Leg’s
The Jealous Disco
Gypsy-pop trio My Wooden Leg has self-released its long-awaited debut album The Jealous Disco just months after the band’s concept EP A Circus hit the streets. The differences are startling and gratifying. For all of its impressive musicianship, A Circus sounded a little predictable, the kind of self-consciously ragged world-music excursion that singer-guitarist-frontman Michael Maftean might’ve conceived in his most well-meaning mood: a tribute to his Romanian musical roots that leaned a little too hard on that country’s dirge-heavy influences. Thankfully, The Jealous Disco is a tighter, more disciplined, and buoyant mutt of a recording that captures the rhythmic glee of Maftean, bassist Jacob Martinez, and drummer Joshua Jones at their onstage best.
Although the Eastern European ethnic flavors are unmistakable on these 10 tunes, they’re employed in the service of universal danceability rather than dry NPR-style diversity. The title track is a prime example, as singer Maftean proudly proclaims “I have danced when you’ve bitched and complained” against a backdrop of intricate gypsy rhythms blended with a New Wave pop urgency. “Foreign Girls” is another delicious slice of dance-floor mayhem, celebrating the pleasures of dangerous women who’ll spike your drink and then strip you down. Martinez and Jones master the impressive shifting beats on “Casa De Nebuni” –– the most traditionally Romanian foray on the album –– and “Cop City,” a rocking lament about a corrupt big city with overlays of heavy, frayed guitarwork. If the bouncy “Pet Peeves” sounds a bit too reminiscent of a Brave Combo novelty tune –– Maftean lists his top annoyances, including useless hippies and desperate housewives who become public figures –– it just shows that My Wooden Leg is in the mood to lure new listeners with The Jealous Disco. Their risk-taking in a more commercial direction deserves to pay off. — Jimmy Fowler
Da Underground Prince
CasIron’s sprawling, ambitious early summer release seems to feature half of Texas’ Dirty South rap scene. Along with guest MCs like Swishahouse’s Thyra from Houston (the de facto heart of the Dirty South), Da Underground Prince features Fort Worth heavyweights like Immortal Soldierz and Royal South. Most of the album’s 22 tracks are collaborations.
Prince kicks off with the hypnotic “Worried,” featuring the late YC Da Savior, about the chillingly appropriate ever-looming specter of death. The song gives way to the more playful “Fort Worth, Texas,” a rousing number in which CasIron touts his city as “full of Gs, fly rides, and fine women.”
Head-bobbing abounds on just about every track, particularly on the catchy, poppy ones like “Popped Up” and the smoothly executed ones like “City Lights,” an impressive display of CasIron’s nimble tongue. A few tracks later, “100% Real” provides another glowing example of the MC’s verbal dexterity, delivered in both English and Spanish.
The album’s chief shortcoming is its limited range of lyrical content. Hearing about CasIron and company’s rims, pocket money, cups of purple stuff, and loaded trunk is cool for only so long –– eventually, the words begin to ring hollow and seem a little stale. Alas, what would this droopy musical style be without equally droopy lyrics? Listeners don’t exactly turn to this genre for, say, political treatises or philosophy. This is music to lean to.
Despite the often monochromatic subject matter of the lyrics, Da Underground Prince is loaded with originality, like the aggressive and punchy 15th track, “Revenge,” and the romantic ode “Got One.” It’s these musical and lyrical highlights — along with reliably infectious beats throughout — that make this compilation an overall asset for the Fort’s sleepy chopped-and-screwed community. — Matthew McGowan